My recent walk in the Cheshire countryside led me to some of my favourite spots. Clough Brook runs along beneath Macclesfield Forest and is a very good spot for Dippers and Grey Wagtails. I only managed to see one Dipper, but there were plenty of Grey Wags, with busy parents feeding their young.
This juvenile Grey Wagtail was sitting patiently while Mum and Dad were off looking for food nearby.
Grey Heron in the gloom.
A Robin looking a little dishevelled. It's probably had a busy time raising a family.
Plans had been made for a full days birding outing. We went a little further afield than normal, but with full justification. Blacktoft Sands RSPB reserve sits on the banks of the river Ouse at the start of the Humber estuary. It has been widely reported that there have been a pair of Montagu's Harriers on site for a while. Britain's rarest breeding bird of prey, and a real stunner at that. We were fortunate to see both the male and female in flight for some time. It wasn't close up and I didn't attempt any photography. It was just a joy to be able to watch it through the binoculars. Another lifer for me.
There were plenty of other birds on show too, with Spotted Redshanks, Ruff, Avocets and lots more. A great reserve that I can highly recommend and one that I'll be returning too.
This is not my image, but was taken by birder Dave Adamson. This is the male.
Little Egrets were in good numbers across all of the pools.
The Marsh Harriers were really active. I had the pleasure of watching several food passes between the males and females.
There were good numbers of Ruff in varying plumages. Here is one with a white head, and an Avocet and Teal for company.
An Avocet coming in to land, with some of the many Spotted Redshank, Black-tailed Godwits and Lapwing behind.
I came across a few Grey Herons recently at Pennington Flash. I think most were juveniles, as they were a darker grey then the adult birds and lacked the striking markings usually found on the head. The joy of watching from a hide or behind a screen is that the birds tend to stay put and are not frightened off by the sight of me strolling up. This of course gives ample opportunity to study them a bit more and hopefully get some good shots of them too.
This chap was determined to stand on this post no matter how small it was.
You can see how dark the plumage is on this particular bird.
Having a bit of a scratch while not falling off his post. Impressive!
A Red-footed Falcon had been just a stones throw (25 miles) away from me for the last week. I was desperate to see it but had to bide my time until a window became available. The first opportunity I had was after work on Friday. I checked that it was still around and off I set off towards Congleton.
I found the site no problem at all and before I'd even closed the car door I could see the Falcon flying around its preferred horse paddock.
Unfortunately it then went and sat in a tree as the wind got up, the cloud came over and the temperature dropped. An hour later it came out to play again. I was about to go home when I had the most fantastic fifteen minutes with this bird.
The sun was going down, but this gave me some amazing light and some decent shots.
Hovering Kestrel like.
Coming in to land on a telegraph wire.
Showing those lovely red feet.
On the ground where it spent a lot of time catching food.
I've not seen a Wheatear for a few months. To be honest though, I've not really been anywhere that they would be. I made a long awaited trip to Macclesfield at the weekend. I love this place. A real variety of habitat, from fast flowing rivers, reservoirs and forest to upland moors and craggy slopes.
I stumbled across this chap, who then proceeded to show me the way along this dry stone wall.
I didn't catch his name, but was more than happy for him to stop by and help me out.
There was a lovely Redshank in front of Horrocks hide at Pennington Flash the other day. It's funny how when you've not seen a bird for a while you forget lots of features about it. I saw this little bird go wading past my line of sight and thought oh what's that? It seemed really quite small, and I didn't for a minute think it was a Redshank. I've no idea why, but there it was in all its glory. It just made me think I'd forgotten about its size.
Anyway it was happy picking around the shore line and preening itself, and I was happy to watch it do just that.
A good variety of stuff at Pennington Flash as usual recently. Nothing much out of the ordinary, but it's always good to go and see lots of different species rather than the same species you see on a daily basis. It keeps you on your toes I find.
I had the pleasure of meeting Derek from Northern Ireland in a few of the hides. I had a good time sharing our sightings and knowledge. We spent some time lamenting the lack of movement from a Green Sandpiper some way off in the distance. It only transpired later in the day that he follows my blog. Such a small world. You can find Derek's own blog here: Bangor West
There were quite a few busy parents around feeding their young. Female Mallard here looking after just 3 youngsters. Makes me wonder what happened to the others.
Moorhen scampering about.
There were two very busy Reed Warblers zipping about.
Something to brighten up any birding trip for me is always seeing a Bullfinch. Stunning birds and the males in particular with their bright pink breast and black head. Never easy to locate when in the trees as they stay quiet and are easily spooked. Some help is often required, such as a feeding station. This can almost guarantee a sighting and can often mean some decent perched poses too.
Can anyone notice anything unusual about this individual? Look closely.
I had the huge privilege a couple of weeks ago of watching the last ever Vulcan bomber fly just a few miles away from my house in Woodford. In fact it was to fly directly over my patch in Woodford, as this was where all Vulcans were built. The aerodrome I have mentioned in previous posts is where the Lancaster bomber, Vulcan and Nimrod were built by AVRO. Sadly this aerodrome is now closed and marked to have 950 new houses built on it, at a huge cost to the local wildlife. Nesting Curlews, Oystercatchers, Lapwings and Skylarks, to name a few, will have to find a new residence. The peace and tranquillity will be gone for ever.
Anyway, I have to get over it.
The peace was certainly shattered on this fly by tour of the Vulcan XH558. Once Britain's cold war nuclear bomb carrier, the Vulcan was only used once in anger, during the Falklands conflict of 1982. Built in 1960, it is now 55 years old and what an engineering feat it is. A truly majestic sight to see in the sky.
A museum has now been built at Woodford to commemorate the work carried out here over the many years, and their own Vulcan, painted in anti-flash white, sits proudly outside.
A real shame that this plane will no longer fly beyond this year, but I'm glad I had the pleasure to see it fly over it's home, and my birding patch before it is retired. Just awesome!